Day 032: Apples
Summary: Lionel and Hector meet up after Arkfall, and discuss apples, chocolate, and the ground.
Date: 29 June 2016
Related: Your New Shadow
Hector Lionel 

Inner Arboretum
At the moment, this room is simply a section of Alpha Station that was once an interior room, but is now open to the sky above and the earth below. The dirt is scorched and burned, but still rich. The walls around the compartment are nearly solid, save for a pair of doors that survived Arkfall unharmed. One leads to the former mess and the other deeper into Alpha Station, to a functioning computer lab.
32 Days After Landing

Lionel is off-duty, which is obvious from the simple cargo pants and loose long-sleeve shirt rather than the guard uniform. His hair is in a complete disarray of brown and blond, looking as if he probably rubbed a towel all over his head and called it good. He is watching the comings and goings in this region of Alpha Station — a place some are starting to call the arboretum, probably because of the giant hole in the ceiling that brings in a bright stream of sunshine during the day, and the tight concentration of stars that make up the Milky Way during the night. He is tossing an apple — an apple — between his hands, busying himself while he waits for a familiar face.

"I'm still not used to this," says Hector as he comes up behind Lionel. He's wearing a loose jacket with multiple pockets. His hands are in a set of them at the moment. He squits up at the gaping hole where there once was hull. "I keep waking up at night because I hear animal noises or get a whiff of something on the wind. S'weird, man."

Lionel looks up and around at the voice of Hector, and he offers his friend one of those lopsided smiles. He pops the apple up to him, letting him catch the red and gold fruit. It isn't a perfect specimen like they have seen in the databases or in books, but it is an actual apple, so that makes up for its imperfections in Li's mind. "I know," he agrees, crossing his arms now that he is unburdened by the fruit. "Did you hear the howls? Beckers was convinced it was some chimera of some shit. Guy never did pay attention in Earth Skills."

"Chimera? Man, you should've kept feeding him. I bet we could make up all sorts of crazy animals and start some rumours about jackalopes." Hector catches the apple and turns it over, inspecting it from all angles like a museum curiosity. "I had some apple once. Freeze-dried, from someone's ancient stash. I wasn't that impressed. But then, I'd imagine nearly hundred year old dried fruit is a pale shadow of its former glory."

"Jackalopes," Lionel repeats, brow furrowing with thought. "The antlered rabbits, right?" Then he snorts. "Though, I've already heard tales from The 100 kids that there's some crazy mutations out there… apparently the Grounders have two-headed horses, and some of the kids were talking about eating a five-legged deer." He shakes his head. Then he looks back at the apple, and then at Hector, and he's grinning again. "Yeah, well… anything beats soy paste. The food-techs are overwhelmed by the possibilities." He then nods off to a table, prodding Hector's shoulder to turn him around and push him in that direction.

Hector eyes the apple in his hand with a bit more wariness. "Are we sure…things like five-legged deer is…uh, safe to eat? I mean, I know none of us have dropped dead of radiation sickness yet, but we could still be wasting away and not even realize it." He hunches his shoulders and looks up again at the giant gap in the sky. Then he moves towards the table as Lionel prods him.

"I already made one of the cadets eat one," Lionel reassures him, still grinning. He slumps down into a chair, and knits his fingers together behind his head. His slouch is glorious, and comfortable. The lion looks at home. "We could be," he says in regards to the radiation sickness, "but we were going to die of asphyxiation in space, so…" He shrugs, hands still behind his head, and so the gesture is a bit scrunched, but still a shrug all the same.

"It's so strange," says Hector as he sits. He turns the apple over in his hand, exploring its texture, the way it gives under the pressure of his fingers. "I mean, none of us ever expected to be on the ground. But, here we are. Annnd there's terrible death around every corner." A beat, then, softly and with little enthusiasm, "Hooraaay."

Lionel drops his hands now, leaning forward so his elbows rest on his knees. He reaches out, giving Hector's own knee a little jostle. "Hey, not every corner." Then he relents, smiling sheepishly while his thick brows lift. "Just… most corners." Then he shakes his head slightly. "But, cm'on, man… we're here." He sets his forefinger against his lip, keeping his blue gaze steadily on Hector, trying to gauge his friend's mood.

Hector bites the edge of his lip and draws in a long breath. "Wish ma could've seen it. But honestly, I think the Ground would've frustrated her. She liked control. She liked a closed system. This? This is wild." He looks around again and gestures with one arm. "I'm not sure if we were ready for this."

Lionel rests his elbow on his knee, and props his cheek on his knuckles. It is his listening face — a face Hector has seen several times before. He nods solemnly as Hector reflects on ol' Ma Valentine, and then he looks up at the hole in the ceiling again. "Yeah… no closed systems here." Then he looks back at Hector. He offers a one-shouldered shrug. "Don't got a choice now, H. But, hey…" Then Lionel reaches into his pocket, and he pulls out a small chunk of foil. He grins, holding it up to Hector. "Been saving this for a special occasion. Always kept putting it off." He begins to unwrap the foil, revealing the morsel of chocolate. "Better eat it now before the Ground kills me, huh?"

"Honestly…" Hector looks at the bit of chocolate and grins as he recognizes it. "…I'm not entirely sure that won't kill you," he drawls, then tosses up the apple. "Pretty sure this quite possibly radioactive mutant apple is safer than a hundred year old piece of chocolate."

"Wait a minute," Lionel says, looking affronted, "you gave me possibly killer chocolate?" He then grins, pops the morsel into his hand and then right into his mouth. He pauses, thinks, and then starts to chew. He apparently is willing to risk it — probably because he hasn't paid a visit to Victoria in Medical in the last couple days, and she needs an excuse to yell at him.

"That thing is like a tiny precious stone or something. People carry it around, they trade it, they horde it. No one actually eats th—…" And then Lionel eats the damned thing. Hector watches him, eyebrows arched high, a faint look of worry on his face. "Well?"

The guardsman keeps a thoughtful face until he swallows it, and then coughs a bit. "Your moonshine was better." He doesn't look green around the edges at least. "Tasted like it has been wrapped in foil for a hundred years." He makes a small face then, smacking his tongue and looking a bit like he ate aluminium.

That makes Hector crack a grin. It isn't full-on. That'll take awhile to fully return - if it ever does. They lost a lot of people and everything's been upended. It takes some adjustment. Still, it's a welcome distraction. "Yeah, well, if you die, you can't blame me. That's like eating your grandma's jewelry."

"Who the hell am I going to blame instead?" Lionel protests, gesturing around the mostly empty arboretum. "I already have a note in my underwear that reads 'My Death Was Probably (85.4%) Hector Valentine's Fault.'" He flashes Hector a broad, boyish grin then and crumples up the wrapper. He ignores the small rumble of protest his stomach gives now that the century-old chocolate as settled into his gut.

"Well…" Hector begins, "…at least it wasn't a big piece." Then he starts to snicker, "If you shit yourself, how will you know whether it was the chocolate or the apple?" He eyes the apple, then decides to risk it. He bites into it. "There. If we both vomit or shit ourselves, apple. If just you, chocolate." He chews, then eyes the fruit. "Yeah…those old chips didn't do this justice."

"How scientist of you," Lionel offers with a small groan. He slumps back into his chair now, looking a bit content despite the protest in his belly. He watches Hector actually enjoy — or begin to enjoy — the apple, and he nods. "Told you… apples." Then he rethreads his fingers together behind his head. He is going to be very sick later, but at least he finally ate the chocolate.

"I went a bit overboard the first fresh meal down here. I don't think my body was ready for that much raw food and roughage." Hector touches his belly and winces at the memory. He eyes the apple, then holds the second half of the thing over towards Lionel.

"Got overexcited, did you?" Lionel looks at the offered apple, and then reaches out to take it. This is a lot different than sharing a bottle of booze, and a lot less fun, but apples. He crunches on the fruit, chewing pleasantly before he looks at Hector again. "Apparently cooking it makes it easier to digest. Who knew." He pauses, chewing, and then grinning broadly around the bite of apple in his mouth. "I'm hurt, H. You didn't ask me to come around and help hold back your hair." Even if Hector's hair is a lot shorter now and requires no holding back.

"You were out keeping us safe from six-headed horses and jackalopes," says Hector. He kicks out his feet. "I guess I'm lucky no one's tried to kill me yet. The ground and the Grounders've been a pretty big distraction. But I have a feeling that'll be an issue at some point." He says that with resolve, and at least an attempt at indifference.

Lionel sobers a bit at Hector's words, and he casts a far more cautious look around the arboretum. He taps his finger against the bit of apple and then takes another bite. He chews thoughtfully, not speaking until he swallows. "You know I'm here for you… not assigned to be your shadow anymore, but that doesn't mean I won't protect you if things go sideways." He grimaces a bit, his good-natured demeanor dropping away.

"But see, that's the point. I need a bodyguard way more now than I ever did on the Ark. I've got hardly any crew. People're getting guns who never would have on the Ark. You've got other duties." Hector looks around and bites his lower lip. "It would suck to finally hit the ground and end up with a bullet in my brain from one of our own."

Lionel's concern is evident. He scooches his chair in closer, filling the quiet space with scrape of metal-to-metal. None too subtle, and he looks even more conspiratory, but… Weeks doesn't seem to care. "Look, duties are duties… you really think that's a serious thing, I'll work it out." He gestures around. "Look at where we are… look where you are." He points at Hector with his first two fingers. "I hate to go all Eden on you, but man… we could actually be more than ol' Lady Valentine's Kid and the Guard Who Gets Nowhere."

"What, the king of scrap metal?" Hector laces his fingers together and huffs gently. "I dunno, man. Even if I wanted to, there's no guarantee that I could." His crew, for one. People with old grudges, for another. He stands. "Speaking of. I told Hughes I'd dissect a broken transmitter and catalogue the parts. See you at dinner? If…you're not hanging over the latrine by then."

"Hey… it will come with a really awesome crown, I bet," Lionel replies dryly. Then he leans back, nodding slightly to Hector's words. He doesn't offer much else about their future on the Ground, but he looks optimistic — perhaps overly so to boost up Hector's pessimism. "Alright…" Beat pause, and he grins. "But if I'm hanging over the latrine, you get to come and hold my hair back." And he runs his fingers through his short mess of hair, leaving it in an even worse state.

"Get a haircut, you damn layabout," says Hector with affection. He walks by and ruffles Lionel's hair. Then he's off in the direction of wherever they've set up a makeshift reclamation centre. Hey, at least he's useful.

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